Paul Chelimo says that he is willing to die in a race
United States Olympic 5,000m silver medallist Paul Chelimo was the guest on last week’s LetsRun.com Track Talk podcast and he had a lot of interesting things to say about his career, running fast, his goals, doping in Kenya, racism in America, his daughter, his rivalry with Lopez Lomong, and a lot more.
As a teenager in Kenya, Chelimo ran a tryout race in the hopes of earning a scholarship to come to the United States. Though Chelimo ran poorly, he still made it to the States, and the rest is history. He arrived at NAIA Shorter (Ga.) University with $450 to his name. He’d move on to UNC Greensboro and become a two-time NCAA runner-up, but then joined the Army thinking his running career may be over. Fortunately for Chelimo, he was accepted into the Army World Class Athlete Program and in 2016 he burst onto the professional scene in the biggest way possible, ending up with an Olympic silver in the 5,000m in Rio.
Chelimo revealed two factual things of note we had not heard before. First, he said his ultimate goal is to run the Los Angeles Olympic marathon in 2028.
And he revealed that he missed two out-of-competition drug tests when he was first put into the anti-doping pool after bursting onto the scene in 2016. He said he was unfamiliar with the whereabouts system and how it worked so he missed two tests. “Since then I was so strict, because I knew if I just missed the last one, the third one, it’s gonna be a huge mess,” he said, explaining that a lack of familiarity with the system may be why runners in Kenya are now getting whereabouts failures of their own.
More highlights from Chelimo’s comments below. You can click on the timestamps to listen to them.
[60:06] On what he thinks of Moh Ahmed running 12:47 for 5,000m and Lopez Lomong going sub-13:00 and whether that makes him scared or confident:
“I never get scared. As long as we start from the same starting line in a race, and we finish at the same finishing line in a race [it] really, really doesn’t scare me…
“Usually they say it’s the lion that is smart that strikes the meat. My goal is, it’s towards the Olympics…
“If you’re going to show up and run really fast, and try to frustrate me or frustrate anyone else, I really don’t care. I have a strong mind…. I know they can run fast now. They can pace me. I don’t have to pace them anymore… So it’s good. It’s good for the sport, actually.”
On whether his rivalry with Lomong is overstated:
[62:37] “You know, it gets to a point like when someone is becoming dominant. It’s time someone else tries to break that dominance and I see Lopez Lomong try[ing] break the dominance that I’ve had in the 5K and I like it. I like challenges and Lopez Lomong is very competitive. We’re going to show up and we’re going to race and whoever wins is a champion that day.”
Chelimo says his ultimate goal is running the Olympic marathon in LA 2028, so that makes it easy to avoid taking the shortcut of doping.
[63:41] “Eventually the big goal is to get to LA 2028 in the marathon, think about me being in the LA 2028 marathon. It’s gonna be big. So I just want to keep going and keep going to when I get there. I just want to have a long career. That’s that’s what my big goal is and I just don’t want to be greedy and that’s why I don’t support the drug cheats because I know the more patient you are, the more you get. I know like if I cheat today, yeah, I’ll make a lot of money. But what happens if I get busted? I stay out of running for four years…. And it’s so easy in track and field to be so greedy. It’s so easy to be greedy, especially when people are smoking you in races. It’s so easy to be greedy and try take the shortcuts but let them… I’m happy with what the anti-doping [authorities] are doing and everything because people are getting busted. Which shows it’s working.”
On being willing to die in a race:
[89:19] “Really, it’s all about life. I just have to put food on my table. I just have to hustle hard and I just have to make a living. People hate, they don’t know what I’ve been through… I ran a 5k on a dirt track in Kenya. I ran like eight laps. And I got kicked out of the track because I got lapped in a 5k, running barefoot. And I remember I ran a cross country race in Kenya. I was third to last. I was like, second or third to be last….So, coming from that, and now Nike [is] sponsoring me, I have the best shoes in the world and you want to put me in a race against someone who has had shoes the whole time? You’re gonna think that guy is gonna beat me? I mean I’m just gonna do my best, just to do all I can win the race because I know where I’ve come from…. And I really, really want it. So am I guy, I’m willing to die in a race. And trust me if I die in a race one day, that’s the best way I could die man. I could be happy because I know I was hustling and I know I was digging deep. So that’s pretty much it. That’s pretty much me.”
posted Wednesday August 5th
by Lets Run